By James C. Bulman
This choice of seminal essays explores the impression of severe idea on theatre historical past and the results of functionality experiences on textual Shakespearean feedback. It contains essays by way of William Worthen, Anthony Dawson, Cary Mazer, Barbara Hodgdon, Michael Friedman, Judith Dunbar, Douglas Lanier, Martin Brunkhorst, Juliet Dusinberre, Robert Weimann,and Dennis Kennedy.
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Extra resources for Shakespeare, Theory and Performance
Wright goes on to praise stage players for the “perfection of their exercise” which “consisteth in imitation of others,” though he blames them for their lack of seriousness (what they do is “fained”). In praising orators and denigrating actors, Wright ignores the parallel between them—that the business of acting, like that of rhetoric, is a double one. In both arenas, the body is instrumental in delivering a sense of interiority, one that is constructed in and through the separation between inner and outer, self and body.
What we might want to call the “personation process” tends to produce interiorization in two distinct ways—first for the character who leaves the actor behind but retains his (her) body as a sign of an internal life, and second for the audience, who are encouraged into double consciousness by being led to respond to the represented person (being possessed by him/her we might say) and simultaneously being made aware of the very process by which the player constructs the fictional character. As audience members, we shed real tears on account of what we recognize as unreal feelings; that is, we separate out the actor’s body from what it represents and the character’s “body” from what it means— what it says about mind, or “soul” or “self”—on the basis of our meta-theatrical experience, our sense of a complex set of parallels and distinctions between actor and character, fictional and actual situation.
All those bodily reactions belong to the performance. In the theatre, the truthful body always lies. The blushes, the tears, the stretched tendons, the quickened heartbeat, are signs, not symptoms, moments of representation whose point is to establish a set of meanings or, more often, a rush of feeling, that exists aside from the actor’s body, in the minds (or “hearts,” to use a favorite Elizabethan term) of the spectators. A paradox emerges similar to that named by Diderot: the body exists under erasure, and yet that elision of the body, that move toward discourse, is a direct result of the body’s presence.
Shakespeare, Theory and Performance by James C. Bulman